Charles Finney said, “Revival is the infusion of the Spirit into that body which threatens to become a corpse.” I think you can agree with me that our nation and local community are in dire need of revival. II Chronicles 7:14 provides us with the best prescription for revival. There are certain things we, as God’s people, must do and then God promises to respond with revival. Here are the things we must do: 1. Humble ourselves. 2. Pray and seek God’s face. 3. Turn from our wicked ways. God will then respond and give us the revival we so desperately need.
I want to acknowledge that I have taken material from the book, “Cure of All Ills,” by Mary Stewart Relfe, to describe three major revivals in the state of Kentucky that completely revolutionized that state over 200 years ago. Kentucky was then known for its drunkenness and immorality but in short order it was completely changed by these revivals and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
The first revival was in June, 1800, and took place in the Red River Presbyterian Church. This small church called for a community communion service. For three days they examined themselves and confessed their sins. John McGee, a Methodist pastor, was asked to speak. As he spoke strange things happened. People were breaking up and falling to the floor. Mr. McGee went over to one lady and kindly requested that she regain her composure because this was a Presbyterian church. As he returned he almost fell himself and then went through the building shouting and exhorting unashamedly. People were crying for God’s mercy. This spiritual awakening led to other revivals in Kentucky.
The next revival took place just one month later in July, 1800 and was in Gasper River. After the announcement was made, 11, 000 people showed up and it took place outside. Some called this the first camp meeting. Wagons brought tents and blankets in so they didn’t have to leave. The cries of distress almost drowned out the preaching. Hunger and sleep seemed to affect no one. Professors were lying prostrate on the ground and saying something similar to this, “Oh, how I would have despised anyone who would have acted as I am, but I can’t help it.” Most of the people were crying out for mercy in the most extreme distress. There was no doubt about it revival had come.
The Rev. Barton Stone attended the Red River and Gasper River revivals and came home to Cain Ridge and led people in much prayer for something similar to happen there. In August 1801, he invited people to come for a six-day protracted meeting. Approximately 25,000 people showed up. People were sectioned off into manageable groups. Ministers from the Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist faiths were invited to do the preaching. Preachers stood on stumps, fallen trees, and wagon beds to declare the Word of God. Thousands were saved, including Peter Cartwright, who went on to be a very successful preacher and teacher. While the preaching was going on many were singing, others were praying and many were crying for God’s mercy. One Methodist circuit rider said the noise was like the roar of Niagara Falls. He saw 500 people swept down in a moment like a battery of 1,000 guns were fixed upon them.
The rich and poor, educated and uneducated all were present and affected in the same way as the Holy Spirit swept upon them. The revival moved to Cynthiana, Paris, Flat Creek, Point Pleasant, Walnut Hill, Georgetown and many other towns with the same results. Other states, such as, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina experienced the overflow. It then moved westward and all recognized it as “God’s Great Hour.” Kentucky was transformed from a state known for its immorality and drunkenness into a state of sobriety and morality. A college president described it as a very moral state.
Many of us are concerned about Sidney with its immorality, drunkenness and drug usage. I visited a man this very day at Wilson Health who almost lost his life because of heroin overdosing. Can we not see a great spiritual awakening here if we pay the price of humbling ourselves, praying and seeking God and turning from our wicked ways? The ministers of Shelby County are calling for people to form prayer groups and seek God until something similar happens here with multitudes being saved, drug and alcohol addicts crying unto God for deliverance, and those living together without marriage will be lining up to procure their marriage licenses. I look forward to the day someone writes a book titled, “The Day the Spirit Fell Upon Shelby County.”
The writer is the pastor emeritus of the Christian Tabernacle.